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I hope he at least has a good idea, or is prepared to change things and is not afraid of dropping the "certs" Ferguson and Boyd.

 

Rangers manager Walter Smith admits that he will not yet know his strongest starting line-up when his side face Zeta in the Champions League.

The Glasgow side entertain Chelsea at Ibrox on Saturday in their final friendly before Tuesday's tie.

 

"We are far better off numbers-wise than we were last season," said Smith, citing several injury absentees.

 

"But it will only be a few months into the season that we will know what our best starting 11 might be."

 

However, there will be no more experimentation by Smith, who is poised to field what he believes to be his strongest-available side against the deposed English champions.

 

And he thinks that Jose Mourinho's side will provide the kind of stiff test they need ahead of the visit by the champions of Montenegro in the second qualifying round.

 

It's a great test, especially for all the new players

 

Rangers striker Lee McCulloch

 

"We would hope, bringing in the players we have, that there is decent quality in there," said Smith.

 

Kevin Thomson is recovering from an ear infection, Steven Smith and Thomas Buffel are still on the casualty list and Andy Webster is suspended for four games at the start of the season.

 

But Smith, whose side drew 1-1 with Ajax in midweek, insisted: "We're happy with the situation that we are in at the moment.

 

"We're ready now. We are physically ready. Our match-fitness is there and we have a little bit of competitive edge in our games.

 

"As far as our pre-season training goes, Chelsea is the last of our friendly games and, no disrespect to any of the other teams we have played, it's the toughest of them all.

 

"That's an intentional factor. We go into a big game on Tuesday night and I felt we had to try to take a game that would stretch us.

 

"Ajax and Chelsea are both good sides and both have featured prominently in Champions League games and they give us a terrific test.

 

"We couldn't get a better game. Chelsea have been fantastic in the last three years since Jose Mourinho took over."

 

Summer signing Lee McCulloch knows all about Chelsea, having moved from English top-tier outfit Wigan Athletic in the summer.

 

And the striker said: "It's a great test, especially for all the new players.

 

"Going forward, we are looking really good at the moment.

 

"We just need everyone pulling together and knowing each other defensively as well."

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Well it looks like 4-4-2 is our most effective formation, but its unsure whether or not WS fancies that formation.

 

Gk and defence picks itself until Smith gets fit.

 

If we got 4 in the middle who drops out out of Hemdani and Thomson, as the captian will likely start most games. The only other issue seems to be the flanks. Does McCulloch continue at RM while we search for another, who may be Whittaker.

 

If McCulloch is to cover RM, presumably returning to LM when we sort out the right, who plays left. Despite the attributes Beasley should bring that Adam can't; pace and guile, he's yet to impress me.

 

Boyd and JCD to start upfront.

 

Obviously injury, form and tactics may dictate changes, but it looks like the strongest XI is the one that started v Chelsea:

 

McGregor

Hutton Weir Cuellar Weir Papac

McCulloch Fergie Hemdani Adam

Boyd JCD

 

However after Novo's performance, perhaps he will play right and McCulloch will play his more usual LM. I think that is how I would line up on Tuesday. Opinions for the Zeta game?

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I would go with your team except I would play McCulloch LM and use Novo RM (as you suggested after posting your team).

 

If the game is tied up early enough I would give Sebo a chance to come on for a decent run out.

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Yeah I'll go with you guys on the above and would be happy for Sebo to get a run out.

 

The centre midfield issue is going to be interesting if we get a creative player or Buffel comes into form. Ferguson is likely to be a banker starter even though Hemdani continues to be our best midfielder.

 

The only slight issue I see is we have a few players needing to do position swapping to do our covering. For eg McCulloch could see himself being RM then LM the following week and even striker the next. Novo could be a striker one week and RM the next. Etc etc.

 

There isnt anything wrong with having vertisle players but its best to have players in settled positions.

 

Ive been a fan of a 5 man midfield over the years and I still am with the right players but we have to go 4-4-2.

 

But the options we have now are much better, there may even be a shout for 4-3-3 in certain games:

 

______________McGregor______________

 

Hutton_____Weir_____Cuellar______Papac

 

____Ferguson____Hemdani____Thomson____

 

____Novo______Darcheville____McCulloch__

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